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Kidnapper gets sentence increased to five years

The Crown has successfully appealed the 3.5 year jail sentence handed to a Richmond man who played an active part in an October 2011 kidnapping.

In a ruling released Thursday, Justice Peter M. Willcock allowed the appeal involving Demple Manjit Brar, a 45-year-old father of two, increasing his jail sentence to five years.

"The offender's sentence was unfit as it did not fall within the appropriate range for a planned kidnapping in the circumstances of the case," Willcock wrote. "The offender's involvement was not limited to the apprehension of the victim as he was, at least, wilfully blind to the course the kidnapping would take thereafter. He ought to have been sentenced to a period of imprisonment at the low end of the five to 10 year range."

The Crown had argued that the sentencing judge "mischaracterized the planned kidnapping and that she had erred by parsing out the offender's role from the others involved in the offence."

On Oct. 22, 2011, Sulaiman Safi was kidnapped, an incident that ended in dramatic fashion when Safi was dumped along Highway 91 in Richmond.

Convicted with Brar were Robert Ryan Carr, who received nine years, Edmond Joseph Gammel, who received three years, and David Russel Tarrant, who received three years.

Safi was kidnapped between Oct. 19 and 22 of 2001, after $400,000 in cash he was tasked with laundering, either disappeared or was seized by police.

In the original trail, it was revealed that Safi and a woman named Monica struck a bargain whereby large amounts of Canadian funds from illegal sources supplied by Monica's clients would be transferred by Safi, through his associates, to the United States and converted to American currency.

Safi was to earn a commission for the work, to be shared with Dennis Vallee, Safi's business partner.

Monica indicated that the transfers could take place as frequently as once per week, and that the dealings regarding the funds were to be of a clandestine nature and would be laundered into the U.S.

The first transfer was negotiated less than two weeks before Safi's kidnapping.

Some $400,000 was transferred through Safi's associate, a man named Ethan, during a meeting at a mall in Chinatown.

But plans to transfer the money to the United States were derailed thanks to a worldwide Blackberry messenger service outage.

"On Oct. 12, the transaction was aborted because service with Blackberry messenger was unavailable throughout the world and this service was essential for the transfer of the money to the U.S.," the court ruling states.

The service disruption also hampered communication between Safi  and Nazafar Victoria Mirhadi, who was monitoring the transaction, and his associates.

Safi reached his contacts in the U.S. who were going to receive the funds and carry out the transfer on Oct. 13, but there wasn't enough time to complete the deal that day.

So because Monica and Mirhadi were upset about the failed transfer, Safi decided to cancel the transaction and get the money back to them.

And that's when the deal started to really fall apart.

Safi contacted Ethan to get the cash ready for pickup, but Ethan had already cycled some of the money into other illegal transactions and couldn't retrieve the balance immediately. What remained appeared to be $265,000.

To ensure neither he nor his associates were linked with the cash, Safi called for a taxi for another man, who agreed to go with the money, while Safi followed in his own Porsche.

That's when both vehicles were stopped by the police.

Safi was released, but the police search uncovered the cash in a large suitcase—amounting to $283,860, including a small amount of America currency—which was seized.

That night, Safi met with Mirhadi and others to explain what happened, but Mirhadi doubted his version of events.

"She became very angry and accused Safi of masterminding the theft of the money from her clients," the court ruling states.

Efforts to get the cash returned from police, as well as the outstanding money from Ethan, proved fruitless over the next several days for both Safi and Mirhadi.

Then, on Oct. 20, during a meeting at the Denman Tap House in downtown Vancouver, Safi was instructed to get into a vehicle, had a black ski mask placed over his head, was handcuffed behind his back, and had a taser held to this head.

Safi was eventually taken to an industrial complex in Richmond, at 2288 No. 5 Road, where he was placed in a room with air conditioning, remained handcuffed, and was zap strapped to a chair.

His captors threatened at one point to start cutting off Safi's fingers.

Safi advised he had contacts who could get him 10 kilograms of cocaine, which he would give to his captors.

Then, one morning, Safi's captors learned that Safi's wife had contacted police, and that she was freaking out.

"Even though they had not yet received an money from his associates, the main guy told Safi that he would be released.

Safi was eventually put in the back seat of a vehicle, had a black ski mask placed over his head, and driven to a location on Highway 91.

"Safi was instructed to get out but not to take the mask off right away and to sit on the meridian. He took off the white hoodie before leaving the vehicle, and sat on the meridian as instructed while the Mazda drove off. Thereafter he immediately took the ski mask off and started running across the highway and scrambled up the embankment to the other side. He was running toward a bus stop when he threw the mask away. Almost immediately thereafter, Safi was stopped by two members of the VPD strike force and taken into their police vehicle," the original court ruling said.

As it turns out, Vancouver Police surveillance teams had been watching the events at the front entrance of the No. 5 Road building on Oct. 21 since 11 a.m., the morning after Safi's wife alerted police to the possible kidnapping.

Police already had viewed video surveillance footage from the Denman Tap House with restaurant manager.

"From the surveillance footage, Mr. Thompson identified Demple Manjit Brar as a well known customer who was related to the owner."

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